The development of a safety protocol for infectious diseases with an emphasis on technical controls to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 has helped many employers to successfully get workers back, according to a safety expert at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc's 2021 conference, held practically.
Employers must adopt COVID-19 disease protocol and future outbreaks, says Joe Whitlock, senior industrial hygienist at EFI Global Inc. in Hilliard, Ohio, answering questions from Columbus, Ohio-based Michael Lorms, head of risk at Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. during the taped session published Monday. In Whitlock. Employers often have a "short memory" of this type of event, but over the past 20 years they have seen outbreaks ̵
"Organizations need to plan and be ready for the next event," he said. "Not many organizations thought about this or were prepared for it … but definitely have that part of your program documented, because there will be another event."
Although the protocol should include social distancing, strategies for monitoring employee behavior, mandatory face coatings, remediation stations and barricades, technical checks are also crucial, he said.
"With only face coatings, you will get a 20% risk reduction," Whitlock said. “If you look at ventilation improvements, it can give you a relative risk reduction of 90 to 95%. Focusing on these technical controls is the best way to protect your workforce and customers and clients in your area, he said.
Such air quality technical controls do not necessarily have to be costly, he said, noting that "good old fashioned portable HEPA filters work really well – they have 99.97% efficiency to filter out the virus. Obviously, the pricing of these units has gone up considerably from a year ago from supply and demand, but you can get really good units in stores. ”
One of Mr. Whitlock's customers, a third-generation dental office, implemented technical controls such as UV lamps and ionizers, as well as improved cleaning protocols and other protective measures, which protected workers and clients from COVID-19 infection and also resulted in a "huge reduction in staff absenteeism".
"Dental hygienists and forward-thinking employees were notorious for being out for so many sick days," he said. "They saw an increase in business … and a decrease in absenteeism only from the cold and flu season. They thought the return on investment would be worth it, and it has paid off. ”
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